What is website optimization?
Website optimization is the process of using tools, advanced strategies, and experiments to improve the performance of your website, further drive more traffic, increase conversions, and grow revenue.
One of the most critical aspects of website optimization is search engine optimization (SEO). The technique not only focuses on getting various pages of your website to rank high in the SERPs for specific keywords but enables prospects to find your brand in the easiest possible manner. The other critical aspect here is on-page optimization. This technique ensures that prospects that land on your website has the best user experience compelling them to take the desired action and convert into a lead.
So, by optimizing your website, you can not only tap into an untapped market in the most effective and efficient manner (without paying for advertising) but open doors to more conversions and revenue gains.
But, while SEO is an essential part of website optimization, it’s not the end-all-be-all of optimization.
Optimizing your website for real people helps you gain your visitors’ trust, starts building a relationship, and lets you sell products without having to jump on a sales call.
A holistic website optimization approach combines a variety of disciplines to make sure your website performs ideally in all areas:
- UX Design (Frontend)
- Web Development (Backend)
- CRO/Landing Page Optimization.
If you specifically want to maximize sales and leads from existing traffic, you should read our comprehensive guide on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) instead.
Why is website optimization important?
In the past decade, the internet has become a place where consumers make their buying decisions and purchase products.
Global eCommerce sales grew to over $3.46 trillion in 2019, making up 16.4% of total retail revenue worldwide.
The internet has also become the go-to destination to find information on local businesses (46% of total Google searches have local intent, and 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases) as well as software companies, B2B enterprises, and more.
The internet is taking over the role of “asking a friend” in all industries. So by positioning your business correctly, you can consistently win turn people who had previously never heard of your company into customers.
If you don’t optimize your website and your content, it doesn’t matter how many people search for terms relevant to your business. Your site won’t show up in the results. Your website and your business won’t get noticed by anyone.
But when you do optimize for search, you put yourself on the map. Consumers will search for relevant terms, and your website and business will always show up.
By mastering Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you will generate targeted traffic from interested buyers.
But it’s not enough to just optimize for search alone. If you only grow your traffic, and your site’s content doesn’t appeal to potential customers, nobody will convert. Visitors will bounce from your website without making a single purchase.
To make use of the traffic, you also need to optimize the user experience and efficiency of your conversion funnels.
By mastering Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), you maximize the number of leads and sales you generate from paid and organic traffic.
Another often overlooked benefit is that website optimization can lead to helping the environment. So when you do optimization, you can help reduce the carbon footprint of your website.
How does website optimization work?
The goal of website optimization is to make your site as appealing to search engines and real people as possible. But how do you do that?
The first step to making anything better is to identify issues. You need to find out what’s wrong with your current site before you can improve it.
That’s the foundation of any great optimization process.
It’s not enough to just brainstorm potential issues with your team. You don’t have the bandwidth or experience to cover all areas. Instead, you should use available software tools to search for potential issues with SEO, page speed, mobile usability, and more.
Below we’ve created a table overview of all major optimization areas, relevant tools, and benchmarks you should meet or exceed to get results.
|Page Loading Speed||Page Speed Insights||90+ score and subsecond first meaningful paint.|
|Mobile Usability||Mobile-Friendly Test||No issues and a “page is mobile-friendly” message.|
|SEO (Backlinks & DR)||Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz||Higher domain rating and more backlinks than top competitors.|
|SEO (Technical On-Page SEO)||Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz||Ahrefs: Health Score of 80%+SEMRush: SEO Audit Score of 80%+Moz: Page Optimization Score of 80+|
|SEO (Content)||SEMRush (SEO Writing Assistant), MarketMuse||Benchmarks depend on each keyword’s competitiveness.|
|CRO (A/B Testing)||VWO Testing||Conversion rate benchmarks depend on the industry, but 5.5% is the average for all industries.|
Finally, you should test the usability of your site with unaffiliated test users. The results will give you a roadmap where you can coordinate optimization efforts with different teams.
Content writers can improve the content, website managers can improve site structure and other on-page SEO issues, and designers can improve user experience as well as the look and feel of your site.
6 essential website optimization strategies
There are a lot of different approaches and strategies you can use to improve your website. Just a single search for “improve your website” brings back over three billion search results:
It can be challenging to get started when there’s so much info out there.
Instead of overwhelming you with information, this guide will focus on the basics and help you get maximum ROI on your website optimization efforts.
Below, we’ve highlighted six vital strategies that will help you optimize your website in all areas.
1. Optimizing the mobile experience
It’s no longer enough to have a website that looks and works great on laptops and desktop computers. To succeed in the online marketplace, you need to focus on your site’s mobile experience as well.
The majority of all traffic (52.2%) in 2018 was mobile. Not to mention, most Google searches now happen on smartphones. In Q3 2019, 64% of Google searches were made on mobile.
Because of this, Google has already switched to mobile-first indexing, where they primarily index and rank your mobile pages. So any issues can cost you not just potential mobile conversions, but the opportunity to rank highly for relevant search terms.
So the first thing you want to do is run a basic mobile usability test, for example, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Correct any glaring issues that the test turns up.
You should also test all pages on the most popular phone models, to make sure it adapts appropriately to each screen size.
You can do this with the device toolbar in Chrome Developer Tools. It lets you display your website in different sized screen windows.
Again, take the necessary steps to fix any potential issues. You want mobile users to have an easy time on your site.
You should make sure that:
- You don’t have popups or interstitials showing on mobile.
- The site loads quickly/correctly.
- The text is easy to read.
- All content is visible.
- Scaled-down images and graphics are still legible.
- The site is easy to navigate.
If you cover these basics, both search engines and users will reward you.
2. Improving page speed
People don’t like to sit around and wait while a site loads up. A 5 second load time leads to a 38% bounce rate, and the longer it takes, the higher it becomes. Having a website that loads fast is the first part of good user experience.
Page speed is also an official Google ranking factor, and can directly impact your SEO.
To find out how fast your site is, and any potential bottlenecks and issues, you can use a free online tool like Pingdom Website Speed Test, or Google’s Pagespeed Insights.
It will grade your website, count and categorize all HTTP requests, and highlight what you can fix.
Some common issues are uncompressed JS and CSS files, no CDN, no page caching for CMS-powered sites, and large, unoptimized image files.
The compression and caching problems, and a lack of CDN, can be easily fixed with plugins or extension for your CMS. Images can be optimized with available image compression software, like Smush, kraken.io, Cloudinary, or ImageKit. If you have videos on your site, then use video compressors like Clideo or Clipchamp to reduce the video file size.
It might take a significant investment of time or money, but every millisecond you shave off is worth it.
A cheap, low-quality shared hosting plan can also lead to slow page loading times. So if your page still loads slowly after you’ve reached a 90+ score on page speed tools, you need to upgrade to a better plan.
3. Search engine optimization
Optimizing for search engines is one of the most powerful marketing tools on the internet. 70% of marketers see SEO as more effective than PPC.
It’s not just a way to get traffic. People prefer and trust organic search results more than advertisements. You get co-signed by Google for having quality content relevant to what the user is searching for.
The first step towards improving your SEO is to make sure that Google is correctly indexing all your pages, and that you don’t have any glaring SEO errors.
Signing up for Google Search Console, and registering your site is a great first step here. It will highlight fundamental issues, list your indexed pages, and keep track of which keywords they rank for.
Once you’ve covered your basics, it’s time to move on to more technical third-party tools, and advanced tactics and strategies.
We’ll cover advanced SEO strategies in a dedicated section below.
4. Tailoring website copy to drive conversions
The words you use on your website matter more than you think. Design, images, usability, and page speed are all crucial factors, but words control your message.
And, while words are the easiest thing to change, they can also be the most powerful.
Case studies show the power of web copy all the time. In one instance, adding a single word to a headline increased conversions by 89.97%.
So don’t rush through your content. You want the copy on each page to provide a logical roadmap towards the conversion action you want them to take.
To do this, you not only need to understand basic website copywriting techniques but also your customer base.
If you don’t understand the problems, desires, and doubts of your visitors, you can’t create a journey in words that will guide them to the destination you want.
Analyze in-depth user data like heatmaps to get to know the customer journey, and talk to existing customers about their doubts and what convinced them to purchase.
Once you’ve identified an area with a weak copy on your website, you can ideate and test different copy variations based on what you know about your customers.
5. A/B & multivariate testing
Once you’ve identified a problem with your site, whether it’s copy-related or not, A/B testing is the best way to put your potential solutions to the test in the real world.
For example, let’s say the conversion rate for a landing page is quite low, and your team thinks the copy might be the problem. You can formulate new, stronger headlines and features, and quickly test them in a head-to-head.
If the new version gets a statistically significant increase in conversions, you know that your theory was right and that you’ve solved the problem.
But even if your new version loses, that doesn’t mean you haven’t identified the right problem. You might just not have found the right solution.
That’s why multivariate testing — testing multiple potential solutions at the same time — can be a good idea.
By putting the original up against multiple variations at the same time, you’re more likely to find a significant improvement.
You can use what you learn from single-page tests to improve the rest of your website as well.
6. Optimizing user experience
eCommerce and small business owners often overlook the user experience of their website at large. They tend to obsess over SEO and CRO but don’t try to improve how easy their site is to use.
But a better, smoother experience can make all the difference.
Think about it: by creating a more intuitive, better experience for all users, you retain a higher percentage of your visitors. They come back multiple times, and more of them naturally follow your funnel and become customers.
Not to mention, dwell time (how long a Google searcher spends on your site before returning) is a significant SEO ranking factor.
This will help you identify UX problems and brainstorm potential solutions. Once you’ve developed a new version of a page, you can either benchmark it against the original with an A/B test or do a benchmark usability test with a group of test users.
How to optimize your website for search engines (aka SEO)
How do I optimize my website for search engines?
That is a critical question you need to answer to make the most out of your website.
Or, since Google has a 75.23% global search engine market share, you specifically need to understand how to optimize for Google.
In this section, you will learn how to figure out what your potential customers are searching for on Google, how to tailor content to their searches, and what you need to do to start ranking pages in the search results.
1. Keyword research: Figure out what your customers are searching for
The foundation of any SEO tactic, strategy, or process is keyword research. You need to understand which keywords and terms your target customers are actively googling.
This knowledge will help you with everything from planning and writing content for your website, to creating landing pages, campaigns, and tracking your results.
There are a lot of different tools for keyword research out there, but the most basic option is available for free: Google Ads Keyword Planner.
If you have a Google Ads account, you can use it to search for new keywords to target with ad campaigns, but it’s also useful as a starter research tool for SEO.
Start with a broad keyword or your industry/product category. Google will pull search statistics for all relevant keywords, and show you how much advertisers are willing to pay to advertise for them.
The “Competition” column shows how many advertisers are targeting the keyword and doesn’t necessarily reflect the SEO competition.
Keywords with high “top of page bids” typically reflect keywords that have high “commercial intent.” Companies are willing to pay a lot of money for each click, which means these keywords likely have a high percentage of searchers actively looking to purchase a product or service.
When a user searches for “what is a CRM?” They are just looking for information. If they search for “best CRM for small businesses,” they are actively looking for a product.
That’s an example of a keyword with high commercial intent.
You want to identify a list of keywords that meet the following requirements:
- They have a significant search volume (worthwhile volumes will vary based on your business and the intent of the term).
- They are directly relevant to your products and services.
- The competition is low enough that you have a chance of ranking.
- Bonus: They indicate high purchase intent.
Google Keyword Planner can help you find relevant keywords with a high search volume and good intent, but it doesn’t give you any data on competitiveness.
You could manually Google each of the keywords and look at every top search result, but that’s not an efficient approach.
To find golden opportunities for new content at scale, 99% of SEO professionals rely on third-party SEO tools. The three most popular tools are Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMRush.
With Ahrefs, you can see the competitiveness of any keyword as the difficulty score in the top corner of their “Keywords Explorer” tool.
You can also see detailed information about the top results, including the number of backlinks, word counts, and more.
You also have tools for exploring competitor sites, their keywords, and borrowing their ideas.
With a third-party SEO tool, you can easily find keyword opportunities that you should create content around.
Many keywords are also perfect for post titles and URL slugs already, so you don’t even need to come up with headlines if you do your keyword research right.
Keywords can be turned directly into headlines like “What is a CRM?” and “The Best CRM for Small Businesses.”
2. On-page-SEO: How to optimize your website content
It’s not just the pages you decide to create that impact your SEO. How the content is written, the content’s structure, your site’s structure, navigation, external links, and many other little details matter.
These SEO optimizations you can make by just editing your website is referred to as on-page SEO. And it can make a massive difference.
In a case study, only optimizing on-page SEO improved the top 5 keywords average position from 18.4 to 2.6 in only three days.
As mentioned above, you can use Google Search Console to search for issues and indexation errors. But you can also analyze other on-page factors.
The key is to make sure that important SEO pages receive a priority when it comes to internal links.
Instead, what you often see when you open the “Top linked page – internally” report, are pages like “about” and “contact”:
Of course, these pages are essential, and you have to link to them, but they should not be the only internal links you have. You should also highlight important cornerstone pages with links from all relevant content pages.
When it comes to finding and fixing all your technical on-page SEO issues, it’s easier to do with a third-party solution.
With Ahrefs and similar tools, you can run a site audit that identifies indexation issues, HTML tag errors, and other problems with on-page SEO. You can even schedule it to run on an ongoing basis.
When you open individual reports, you can highlight different issues (like HTML tags):
A popular, free tool that can do much of the same is the Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
But both these tools only help you look for technical issues.
How you write your content, and which words you choose to use can also have a significant impact on your rankings.
So, in addition to technical on-page SEO, you can also use a content-focused tool like MarketMuse to analyze already-ranking content and ensure that you cover as many relevant topics and terms as possible in your own content.
If you use a CMS like WordPress, you can use an SEO plugin like Yoast to input all the necessary metadata for your posts and pages.
It might seem like a lot of different tools, but it’s simply not viable to find, categorize, and fix all issues manually.
3. UX: Improve page speed and experience
Dwell time is an important SEO ranking factor. It measures how much time, on average, a user spends on your page before returning to Google.
If a user clicks your page in the search results, visits your site, and it takes too long to load, chances are they will just return to Google and choose something else.
So the visitor left without meaningful interaction with your site and brand. And if it happens too much, Google will assume that your page isn’t as relevant as they thought, and reduce your rank over time.
The more this happens, the lower your Google position is likely to be.
To remove these unnecessary bounces, you need to speed up your website.
Test the speed of your website and identify your main loading problems, with Pingdom Tools or another option like Pagespeed Insights, GTMetrix, or WebPage Test.
Type in your URL, select a server location and click the “start test” button. Chances are, you won’t get perfect results.
Once finished, the test results will give you a roadmap of issues to fix. Scroll down to see the actual details and advice.
As you can see above, the tested website has too many HTTP requests, many uncompressed components, large image files, and other issues.
A few rules of thumb to improve the speed of your website:
- Have a high-quality dedicated server or cloud hosting plan. (Cheap, shared plans can often lead to slow page load times.)
- Use a CDN for media files and scripts.
- Implement page caching if you use a CMS like WordPress.
- Minimize the number of HTTP requests by keeping things simple, and using a select few JS and CSS libraries throughout your pages.
- If you have to include a lot of images throughout the page, implement lazyload and responsive images.
Keep fixing these issues until you get scores of 90+ and preferably a subsecond load time on domestic servers.
But it’s not just loading speed that can reduce your dwell time and rankings. If you have a clunky design or a funky font that makes it hard to read content, that will also impact how long visitors are willing to stay on your page.
The average time they spend on your site will impact your Google position and your results from all your other SEO efforts.
So you need to make sure that your site’s user experience is on point. An excellent place to start to understand the usability of your website is to analyze how current users are interacting with it.
To get real data on this, you can look at individual recorded user sessions and heatmaps. These reports will show you how customers interact with individual pages and elements in detail.
If you still find it hard to identify the problems, you should take the next step and get started with usability testing.
Once you have identified problems, you can test solutions through further benchmark usability tests, or split testing.
4. Backlinks: Get more sites to share your content
A backlink, or a link from another domain to your website, is one of the most important signals to Google that your content is authoritative.
The idea is simple. Since other people are willing to share and co-sign your content, it must be good.
It used to be the most important ranking factor, bar none, and the number of referring domains still has the most visible connection with SERP ranking and organic traffic volume.
But how do you get more backlinks? There are tons of strategies and tactics, but it all boils down to these two steps:
- Create content worth linking to.
- Find and contact people with relevant sites/outlets who are likely to share your content.
If it’s a standard how-to or list post, it has to be more extensive and better than all the content that currently ranks on Google.
Brian Dean, the mastermind behind SEO blog Backlinko, has perfected this approach into a repeatable strategy, called the Skyscraper Technique.
First, you analyze the SERPs for different keywords until you find top ranking pages that are clearly dated or otherwise unsatisfactory. Then, you make a list of sites that link to the dated article/guide.
Invest the time and money required to create a more up-to-date, better piece of content and reach out to the site owners that linked to the original dated/lacking articles.
In itself, the skyscraper technique page fits into another category of highly linkable content: original case studies and research.
Just this one page has over 2,000 referring domains and over 11,000 organic backlinks. The reason? It’s not just a post; it’s a detailed case study that shares actual statistics and results.
And case studies and research are very effective link magnets for a reason. Web content writers love to use statistics and case studies to back up their points. So one of the best ways to get links is to do original research, publish user/company data, or release a case study.
You can also repurpose lesser-known, recent research to create infographics that highlight the conclusions and makes the data accessible to laypeople.
5. Learn advanced techniques and tackle more ranking factors
Once you’ve learned the basics of SEO, it’s time for you to jump in and learn more about different ranking factors and advanced strategies.
There are over 200 known Google ranking factors out there, so obviously getting familiar with each one and using it to your advantage is going to take time.
To keep learning about the subject of SEO, you must rely on high-quality resources that focus on data-based content and cutting-edge strategies.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of websites you can rely on to expand your SEO knowledge:
- Ahrefs Blog
- SEMRush Blog
- Moz Blog
- Search Engine Journal
- Search Engine Land
- Cognitive SEO
- Matthew Woodward
Visit a few of the sites, check out their basic and advanced guides on SEO, and see which content style you find the easiest to consume.
Make sure you bookmark relevant posts and create custom checklist documents to follow through on techniques that you learn.
Optimizing your SEO is not something that you will be able to do in a day or a week. It is a long, challenging process that you have to dedicate yourself to over the long term.
How to optimize your website for sales and conversions?
If you rely on social media or digital advertising to drive traffic, SEO shouldn’t be your main priority. It should be how to maximize your traffic to get as many leads and sales as possible.
If you already get a significant amount of organic traffic, but very few conversions, it’s the same story. You will get the biggest return on investment by focusing on converting as many visitors as possible.
You can do this by looking at the data and finding bottlenecks and underperforming pages. From there, you can ideate and create potential solutions, and finally, put it to the test against the original page. This process is called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) or landing page optimization.
Previous tests and case studies show that it’s possible to increase your conversion rates by up to 125% by following this process and testing multiple solutions.
To get the most out of your existing traffic, follow the six steps below.
1. Understand your target market
Before you can start to optimize a digital sales process, you need to understand your target market.
A good place to start is to answer the questions below.
- Who are your ideal customers? (Focus on essential details like positions, industries, and company sizes, as well as individual hobbies, etc.)
- Why do they need your product? (Focus on real, tangible problems like losing customers or wasting hours each week on an inefficient publishing process.)
- Are they currently using a competitor’s product?
- What are their biggest pain points with their current solution?
- What is their budget for products like yours? What are customers paying for competitor products?
You should be able to answer basic questions like this, and ideally, you have already constructed detailed and accurate buyer personas.
An understanding of your potential customer base is the foundation of a healthy conversion funnel. It will help you identify potential issues with your content, site structure, and sales funnel.
2. Analyze current user behavior
If you understand who your ideal buyer is, you’re ready to move on to the next step. Track how all visitors interact with your website to find potential bottlenecks and failure points in your funnel.
If you use Google Analytics, make sure you check out behavior reports like “behavior flow” and exit pages.
They will show you how people enter your funnel, and which pages that cause visitors to leave instead of converting or continuing.
But GA can’t give you a holistic image of how your visitors interact with individual pages of your site in real-time.
For that, you need to use other, more specialized tools. With modern analytics tools such as VWO’s AI-powered free heatmap generator, you can track visitor attention and use this information to your leverage.
You can not just see what page they leave on, but what the last headline and content element they interacted with was. So instead of having to guess what’s wrong with a page, you will have clear data that highlights lackluster elements and uncompelling copy.
You can also implement exit surveys, session recordings, and more to get a complete image of how visitors are interacting with every page on your website.
Together, these insights will give you the context you need to start ideating tests to improve your site.
3. Improve usability
Once you’ve identified problem areas on your website, where visitors drop off, you need to figure out how to solve the problem.
Sometimes it’s not related to poor design or copy. It can be a usability issue where your potential customer got confused or fed up with the process and left.
To find and eliminate fundamental UX problems, you can implement usability reviews with real people. In essence, test users try to complete different tasks on your website and report problems they encountered at each step.
It gives your team an accurate representation of how your customers experience your website in real-time and the struggles they face.
You can also use these reviews to benchmark potential solutions before running site-wide tests.
4. Use copywriting best practices
The words and sentences you choose to use on your website can set you up for success or devastating failure.
The power of a single word can make or break an advertising campaign, and it can do the same for your landing pages.
Make sure that you follow copywriting best practices for all your content.
Use a copywriting framework like PAS (Problem Agitate Solution) and learn from successful copywriting examples from competitors and established brands.
You should always cover these basics:
- Use compelling headlines that address your customer’s problems/desires. (Why should they care?)
- Insert a clear Call to Action (CTA) on all important pages. (What should they do?)
- Highlight benefits over features. (How does your product change their lives for the better?)
- Use bullet points to summarize key selling points.
- Write about them, not about your product. (Use the words “you” more than “us” and “we.”)
- Edit your copy to be as clear and concise as possible.
Your writers must also understand where in the funnel the visitor is on every page. It will allow them to edit individual page content for clarity and relevance.
Top of the funnel content will need to explain basic concepts and jargon, while for the bottom of the funnel content, you can write for a more advanced audience.
5. Use A/B and multivariate testing to develop the best landing pages
Once you have identified issues and created a potential solution, you must run an A/B test that compares the new page against the original.
For example, let’s say that you noticed that very few users interacted with a CTA-button and proceeded to scroll past it on the page. You could test new colors, a larger size, or different copy for the button.
A multivariate test will quickly highlight the best possible solution to the problem. It’s the perfect last step for optimizing a page.
You can also develop tests based on ideas from your marketing or sales team, without the extensive analysis up-front.
A fast-paced testing culture is essential to consistently improve your conversion rates and UX over the long term and can lead to new insights into your customers and what makes them tick.
Here are 23 A/B testing ideas to get your team started on improving your conversion rates and landing pages.
6. Implement cart abandonment & remarketing campaigns
No matter how much you optimize your site, cart abandonment will still be a prevalent issue.
The average results from 41 different studies show that the average cart abandonment rate is almost 70%. So out of every ten potential customers, on average, ecommerce stores lose seven before they finalize the purchase.
Even with perfect copy and excellent UX, you will still experience this problem. So to reach those customers again, before they buy the items from competitors, you want to implement cart abandonment campaigns.
A cart abandonment campaign is a marketing campaign that targets users who left a cart before checking out, and reminds them that the cart is still open with the items they chose. You can also offer a discount or coupon to seal the deal.
You can create these campaigns by using a marketing automation tool that integrates with your eCommerce platform. Popular solutions like Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce integrate with most providers.
In the past, the most common medium was email, but now you can use new channels like push and Facebook messenger as well.
7. Use push notifications or messenger to effectively reach engaged users
Every new website visitor represents a potential customer. If they leave and never return, you lost your chance to build a relationship with and sell to them.
To make sure that engaged visitors and users keep coming back, you need a way to contact them.
The most common tactic to do this is email. But it’s a tired medium with a lackluster average open rate of 17.6% and CTR of 2.6% in 2019.
Web push notifications have an average CTR of 6.3%, and over 10% on mobile.
Since there’s no cluttered inbox to get lost in, most users interact with relevant push messages.
Facebook Messenger campaigns have even better rates, with CTRs of up to 60%. But it can be harder to get visitors to sign up to receive messages than simple push notifications.
For best results, use a combination of Messenger, push, and email, and let your visitors choose their preferred channel. An omnichannel approach is the only way to stay connected with the majority of modern consumers.
This has been a quick overview of how to get more sales and conversions from your website. For more information, check out our in-depth guide on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
8 crucial website optimization tips
Optimizing your website can be a large project, taking tens or even hundreds of working hours to complete.
Besides, when the potential rewards are so substantial, you don’t want your efforts to be sidelined by an avoidable mistake.
Below, you can find our eight top optimization tips that will help you complete the process without issue.
1. Always backup your site before implementing changes
Once you’ve figured out a problem, and you’re ready to test or implement changes, always backup your website.
If you use a third-party testing tool to A/B test changes, you don’t need to do this during the testing phase.
But if a test beats the control, you should always complete a backup before making the changes live.
If you developed your CMS in-house, you could still rely on third-party solutions like Drop My Site or Carbonite.
2. Optimize your images before uploading
Images tend to be the heaviest part of any webpage, so your pictures can have a significant impact on your loading speeds.
To avoid potential issues, make sure that you optimize them before uploading. You can use an online solution like Kraken.io, reSmush. It, Cloudinary, or ImageKit to optimize images at scale.
It’s also better to batch together background images into one connected picture, instead of using individual small icons throughout your landing page. This approach will minimize the number of separate HTTP requests your site makes because of visual elements.
You can use CSS sprites to only display selected parts of the larger image throughout your page.
3. Use a CDN to greatly improve page speed
Another way you can offset the load of images is by hosting all your media files and scripts via a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
A CDN is a network of data centers around the globe. It will deliver your file to the visitor from the server closest to their physical location. Using one can significantly speed up loading times, as the physical distance the data has to travel will be a lot shorter.
Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront are two of the most popular options on the market.
4. Test fast and often
Instead of trying to find the perfect solution all at once, you should ideate and set up single-element tests once you identify individual problems.
That way, you can find and implement quick wins and get a positive ROI from your optimization efforts in the short term, while working towards long term goals.
Plus, if you do an A/B test where the variation is different in a lot of areas, even with positive results, you won’t know which individual change made the impact. So it’s harder to implement insights across all your pages.
5. Write for people too, not just for search engines
When people get started with SEO and use content analysis tools, a basic mistake is to focus only on SEO and not on their readers.
Your content needs to serve a purpose and offer real value to people, not just meet a goal of semantically related words, and total word count.
If you don’t find a balance, both your Google rankings and conversion rates will suffer because of high bounce rates.
6. Use social proof to increase trust
When visitors first come to your website, they might not know anything about your company. Since the relationship starts from scratch, you have to earn their trust with your content.
And in 2019, only 59% of consumers responded that they trusted businesses. So just talking about yourself isn’t going to cut it.
You need to highlight actual customer experiences on your site. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as their friends. Positive reviews, testimonials, and other social proof are some of the most powerful selling tools you can use on your landing pages.
7. Always keep mobile in mind
The majority of internet traffic has moved to smartphones. It’s a new era. You must optimize all areas of your website for mobile, including checkout and post-purchase tasks like checking in or contacting customer support.
Mobile-first is the best strategy for design and development in 2020. But failing that, always keep mobile in mind, and test your site on multiple devices when you create and test new pages and features.
8. Optimize the entire customer journey
A common mistake when it comes to A/B testing and CRO is focusing only on a single page or area of the site.
Yes, product pages and landing pages are essential, but they’re not the only things that contribute to your sales.
For example, if you could optimize your search results to get 30% more people onto product pages, that’s automatically a massive jump in sales.
Optimize every stage in the entire customer journey to get the best results in the long term.
The ultimate list of website optimization tools
To try to optimize your site manually in 2020 would be like going into the forest to forage for your own food.
Instead, you can use this extensive list of tools to help your optimization efforts:
Page speed tools
Below mentioned are some of the top rated testing tools in the market that help identify page loading and speed issues. All the tools are free to use and do not require signing up.
- Pingdom Website Speed Test
- Google Pagespeed Insights
- GT Metrix
- Uptrends Speed Test
Below you can find a list of SEO tools you can use to climb up the Google SERPs. Third-party SEO software typically requires a monthly fee to use, so we have highlighted the free options.
- Free: Google Search Console
- Free: Google Ads Keyword Planner
- Free: Screaming Frog SEO Spider
With a platform that covers multiple areas, like analytics, UX, and CRO, you don’t have to rely on disjointed, separate tools for user insights, and A/B testing.
You get a centralized, streamlined experience where you find potential issues and A/B test the solution from within the same dashboard.
Website optimization checklist
At over 5,000 words, we’ve covered a lot of information in this guide so far. It’s probably difficult to keep track of all the information, much less actually use the advice.
To make it easier to implement the tactics and ideas, we’ve distilled each aspect into a checklist you can use when optimizing your website.
Checklist for optimizing your website’s loading speed:
- Use a CDN for media files and scripts.
- Implement Lazy Loading.
- Use responsive images on your site.
- Compress your images before uploading them.
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests.
- Use a caching plugin (If you use a CMS).
- Enable browser caching.
- AMP conversion of high traffic pages.
Checklist for optimizing your website’s SEO:
- Check for basic SEO/Sitemap/Indexing errors with Search Console.
- Research what your customers are searching for.
- Use short URLs/Permalinks that describe your content.
- Optimize images with alt tags and descriptive file names.
- Follow the correct headline structure using a single H1, then H2s and H3s.
- Link to important internal pages.
- Write a compelling SEO title that will drive a high CTR in the SERPs.
- Win backlinks by creating complex content like video, case studies, or white papers.
Checklist for optimizing your website’s conversion rate:
- Know your target audience and write for them in your web copy.
- Cover common pain points in your headlines.
- Highlight features instead of benefits.
- Optimize the user experience.
- Use social proof to build trust with your audience.
- Use white space and positioning to highlight important elements.
- Always include a persuasive CTA on key pages.
- Test everything from headlines, CTA placements, and images to form design.
- Create a conversion funnel that uses a variety of channels.
It’s not enough to just have a website for your business. You have to carefully design and optimize it to consider search engines, your ideal customers, and other factors.
After reading this comprehensive guide, you should have no problem getting started with optimization, and creating your plan of attack.
Make sure you follow our tips and guidelines to avoid mistakes and use our list of tools to not only speed up the process but give you insights you couldn’t get without them.
Even succeeding in a single area can have a massive impact on your bottom line. If you keep experimenting and testing over time, you can use SEO, CRO, and UX improvements to transform your business.
Frequently asked questions on website optimization
Web optimization is the process of using tools, advanced strategies, and experiments to improve the performance of your website, its user experience, and to increase its visibility on search engines, thereby driving more traffic and conversions.
If your company doesn’t optimize its website, it doesn’t matter how many people search for terms relevant to your business; your website is not going to show up in the results. And unfortunately, your website and your business won’t get noticed by anyone. So all your efforts to promote your business online would go in vain. Know more about website optimization in this guide.
The first step of website optimization is to identify friction areas and experience breakages in the conversion funnel. It would be best if you found out what’s wrong with your current website before you can improve it. That’s the foundation of any good optimization process.
There are various strategies for website optimization. Some of them include doing SEO for your website, tailoring your website copy as per your target audience, A/B testing, improving your page speed and optimizing the mobile experience of your website, and so on.
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